Brendan Fraser’s critically acclaimed new film “The Whale” has been hailed as the actor’s comeback after a long hiatus from starring roles on the big screen.
However, the 53-year-old “Mummy” star’s haunting transformation — he donned a fat suit to play a depressed 600-pound man — is also sparking some backlash.
Film critic Katie Rife is going viral for advising plus-sized viewers — and those who are of a thinner frame — not to watch the Darren Aronofsky film, which earned a tear-jerking standing ovation at its Venice Film Festival premiere.
“I can’t recommend in good conscience that fat people watch ‘The Whale,’ ” Rife tweeted on Monday. “I can’t recommend that skinny people watch it either, since it reinforces the notion that fat people are objects of pity who have brought their suffering upon themselves through lack of coping skills.”
[Warning: Spoilers below]
Rife went on, cautioning movie goers with eating disorders: “Massive red flags for EDs and fatphobia; the main character endures over an hour of the cruelest verbal abuse imaginable, and later tries to commit suicide by food. I have dealt with bulimia and binge eating disorder on and off for years, and found it incredibly triggering.”
She also claimed “no actually fat peoples were involved in the production,” as there is a point in the plot where the “protagonist is dying, but refuses to go to the hospital even though he has money to pay the bills.”
“The movie treats this as a combination of selflessness and suicidality, never considering the very obvious reason why a 650lb person would avoid doctors: IT’S CALLED MEDICAL FATPHOBIA YOU ABSOLUTE PR – – KS,” Rife raged. “And yes, Brendan Frasier is very good.”
Fraser’s performance has been applauded, even receiving a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month and earning him the TIFF Tribute Award.
However, some critics enjoyed the film, with Variety noting that “it has a captivating character at its center, turns out to be equal parts sincerity and hokum.” The Hollywood Reporter described the screenplay as having “grace and compassion.”
Twitter users, though, weren’t too excited to see the movie based on how it portrays larger people.
“If you’re thin or even a smaller fat and you go see ‘The Whale,’ I hope you think about the harm fat suits do to super fat people like me, and the harm done by portraying people like me as tragic figures,” one viewer said.
“It looks like a horrible movie all around that encourages fatphobia,” another person noted.
“If you think ‘The Whale’ is going to piss you off BOY HOWDY is it worse than you’d expect,” a user explained. “The reason it’s a fat suit is any writer or director would be embarrassed to put a real person of size through that plot.”